Founded by the Center for Investigative Reporting

The Rainmakers: California's top political donors, 2001-2011

Lavishing their largesse on legislators and political committees alike, the largest donors to California politics spent $1.25 billion from 2001 through 2011. The group — 50 special interests and 50 wealthy individuals — spans the Golden State's social order. They are corporate leaders and venture capitalists, real estate developers and Hollywood scions. They are energy and tobacco companies, labor unions and tribal governments. Collectively, they shelled out a third of all the money given to campaigns in the state during the 11-year period. This data includes only contributions to candidates and ballot measure committees, not independent expenditure groups.


California Faculty Association, Sacramento, CA

Labor union


Win/loss percentage

74 percent

$3,463,576 to winners, $1,224,363 to losers

The California Faculty Association is the exclusive collective bargaining unit for teachers in the California State University system. Its 23,000 members are professors, librarians, coaches and other faculty members on 23 campuses in the state. The group negotiates a general contract for faculty with the CSU system. The group has been at an impasse with the state system since early 2011 over terms of a new contract – including raises for full - and part-time faculty. As of June 1, the two sides were still negotiating.

Total contributions: $6,302,786

855 donations: 609 to candidates, 201 to ballot measures and 45 to parties

List of contributions

Source: Contribution data from National Institute on Money in State Politics

Credits: Interactive by Michael Corey, Coulter Jones and Chase Davis. Reporting by Coulter Jones. Badge design by Thomas Guffey. Additional reporting by Stanford University students enrolled in a Communications Department investigative reporting class under the direction of California Watch Editorial Director Mark Katches. The project began in January 2011. Students participating were: Devin Banerjee, Daniel Bohm, Kathleen Chaykowski, Tom Corrigan, Cassandra Feliciano, Jamie Hansen, Amy Harris, Josh Hicks, Ellen Huet, Julia James, Paul Jones, Ryan Mac, Valentina Nesci, Dean Schaffer, Elizabeth Titus and Kareem Yasin. Bohm, Hansen, Huet, Harris and Titus continued to work on the project as California Watch interns under the direction of Associate Editor Denise Zapata.


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